Theresa May has promised to look into the case of a London man asked to pay £54,000 for cancer treatment despite having lived in the UK for 44 years, after Jeremy Corbyn raised it at prime minister’s questions.
The Labour leader began a series of PMQs questions on the NHS by asking May about Albert Thompson, whose case was uncovered by the Guardian. Thompson is not receiving the radiotherapy treatment he needs for prostate cancer after he was unable to provide evidence of residency.
After both Corbyn and May began by paying tributes to Stephen Hawking, who died on Wednesday, the Labour leader noted that the scientist was “also a passionate campaigner for the National Health Service”.
Corbyn asked: “If we believe in universal healthcare, how can it be possible that someone lives and works in this country, pays their taxes, but is then denied access to the NHS for life-saving cancer treatment? Can the prime minister explain?”
May said: “I’m not aware of the particular case that the right honourable gentleman has raised with me, but we do want to ensure that all those who are entitled to treatment with the National Health Service are able to achieve it.”
Thompson – who has asked for his real name not to be used after legal advice – worked as a mechanic in London, paying taxes for more than three decades, until his cancer diagnosis made it impossible for him to continue working.
Corbyn said he would write to May about Thompson’s case, adding: “I suspect he’s not alone in this, and I urge her to discuss this with the Home Office and others.”
May responded by saying that Corbyn had never written to her about an earlier case he had raised at PMQs in October. The Labour leader said this was because the situation had been resolved, adding: “If nothing else, it proves the power of parliament.”
Thompson said he was happy his case had been raised in parliament and he hoped it would persuade officials to reconsider the demand for payment of £54,000 before his radiotherapy treatment was given.
“I’m feeling very worried about my health. To me it feels like they have done half the job and then left me to die,” he said. “I hope now this will all be resolved.”
The rest of the May and Corbyn’s exchange was taken up with the NHS, with Corbyn castigating the government over issues including A&E targets, saying May must “get a grip” on the situation.
He said, referring to the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s spending and growth update on Tuesday: “The NHS is clearly is crisis, so why wasn’t there a penny extra for the NHS for yesterday’s statement?”
May replied: “Can I say to the honourable gentleman, we didn’t wait until yesterday’s spring statement to announce more money for the NHS, we announced it in the budget last autumn.”
May also condemned the record on health of the Labour administration in Wales. Corbyn responded: “It’s a bit rich for the prime minister to be scaremongering about Wales when she’s abandoned targets in England.”